Even after the euphoria of Sankranti, the celebration of Mother Earth and her produce, is long over, the craving for pithe and payesh in our household continues unabated.
Enough to annoy Maa such that Grandma needs to play the pacifist.
The gur season shall soon get over Bouma, Grandma reasons, let them savour these delicacies to their hearts content.
And given that consensus is onerous to come by, (if I ask for my favourite Gokul Pithe, Dada insists on Sujir Doodhpuli and Bapi, who for once doesn’t hesitate lending support to our pithe-puli clamours, sticks to the classic Doodhpuli), the kitchen continues to work on an overdrive, whipping up a veritable feast of these winter delights every other day.
But then, one day, the nolen gur does run out.
Manikkaka is dispatched to the market to scout for any shop that still has that last kolshi of the coveted nolen gur. But when he returns mid morning with a sullen face, I am quick to realise that the mission has been unsuccessful.
Didi is then sent to check with neighbours. If any of them has a little nolen gur that they can spare. That too draws a blank.
But who shall explain to a nine year and an eleven year old that it shall need to be a year’s wait before the nectar is available again.
But Grandmas are endowed with infinite wisdom and no crisis whatsoever is compelling enough to subdue them.
Let me make a new pithe today for the two of you, she consoles, something that you have never savoured earlier.
The Doulla Pithe that Grandma (Bamma) creates is sheer magic – Pillowy rice flour parcels with a tiny morsel of patali hidden in the center. Stewed in milk perfumed with even more patali gur.
Have a bite, Grandma coaxes.
And the molten patali bursts out of the shackles of the rice flour cocoon.
The fragrance of patali and the perfume of rice leave my palate enthralled.
I take another bite.
It took me years to realise that Grandma had improvised over the classic Doulla Pithe, where the rice flour is cooked in jaggery water to make the dough.
But when smiles of the two people, most precious to her, are at stake, poetic licences as these are more than permitted.
So when S returns home with a request for pithe, I let nostalgia wrest control. I return to the halcyon days in Karimganj and make Grandmas version of Doulla Pithe, with the surprise of a patali nibble hidden in the rice flour case.
Far better than lava cakes, comes the verdict.
And I am beaming like a Cheshire Cat.
So what is Sankranti is over ?
If you are as zealous a fanatic about your pithe puli as I am, do give this version of Doulla Pithe a try.